There is certainly no excuse for the murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children by Rowan Baxter in a murder-suicide.
Nor is there any excuse for the murder of four children by Charmaine McLeod on 27 May 2019 when she deliberately drove her car into a truck, probably causing permanent mental anguish to the truck driver.
Yet these two cases, similar in so many ways, are being treated quite differently. There was a Parliamentary vigil in Canberra for Clarke and her children, but not for the four children of the grieving father James McLeod. His warnings of the likelihood of his former wife committing violence were ignored. The media reports around the time imply that she was suffering depression – as if that was an excuse for the murder – something which Bettina Arndt and Det Insp Mark Thompson were slammed on social media and elsewhere when they suggested that it is too early in the investigation to decide on the guilt of Rowan Baxter and whether he had any defence for his actions (ie: mitigating factors).
In both cases the murderers died at the scene from self-inflicted wounds. But if they had survived and faced Court on charges of murder they would presumably offer a defence or claim some extenuating factor to mitigate their guilt.
Of course there is no excuse for murder, and Thompson should have chosen his words more carefully, but the furore which his comments and those of Arndt have attracted has been rather extreme to the point that the Senate voted for Arndt to have her Order of Australia rescinded.
If we were to go through living recipients of the Order of Australia for things that they said which caused offence there would be many others that would have their order stripped.
What are politicians such as Sarah Henderson, Tim Smith and Jill Hennessy really saying? If Rowan Baxter survived his self-inflicted wounds that he should not be allowed to plead not guilty, or that he should be automatically convicted without the necessity of a trial?
Really it is time for people to calm down, and allow the Police to go after murderers and other criminals who should face the full force of the law provided it is through due process and according to time honoured principles. This social media pile on is so undignified but is typical of today’s society where competitive outrage is a national sport.